Sendler advice corner: Tips on how to start your small business
Knowing exactly what to do when starting a new business is hard—some might say impossible. You try to check all the boxes, listen to the right people, recheck all the boxes, and summon the energy to pull that trigger.
But, other people have been there. They’ve taken the fateful step off the ledge and landed on their feet. They are now small business owners and they’ve got stories. They’ve got advice.
We talk to lots of small business owners. Everything we do as a company is to make their job a bit easier. So we listen. And we help them tell their stories.
In these conversations, we’ve learned how different everyone’s path to starting a business has been. There isn’t one way to start. One thing I always ask them is what they’d tell someone just starting their own business.
Their answers were really great and so I thought I’d put them all in one place.
Do you have any small business advice to dispense for someone just starting out?
Wow. Yes. A million things.
But also: If I’d known all those things that could be difficult, I never would have started.
I could write a mile-long list of all the things to beware of about marketing, budgeting, hiring people, getting swindled by contractors, the daily operations of an eCommerce brand.
So while I do have a lot of admonitions, I’m cautious about putting too much emphasis on them. Because at some point, you just have to start.
You'll have some challenges, and hopefully some luck too. I think a lot of the people who succeed in business are the ones who simply stick with it.
If I had to pick out the one thing I wish I’d done differently, it would have been to start on my marketing earlier in the process of developing the company.
I focused on making the product almost entirely for the first year and half, and it can be disheartening to “launch” before having much of an audience. It ended up feeling kind of anticlimactic.
You’re not doomed by any means if you do it this way, but you have to tolerate what it feels like to pour your heart and soul into something and not have many people to show it to once it’s finished.
If I could go back in time, I would set things up differently early on to spare myself that experience.
I would advise you to choose the right niche, do market research, but most importantly be confident in what you are doing and dedicate yourself fully to your own idea.
Don't be afraid, just do it!
Keep it simple, to begin with, and build/adapt as you go.
Find what works for your business and focus on those aspects one at a time. And talk to your customers!
Ask them what they want to see from you, or how they want to buy your product.
We’ve seen that customers are very understanding of small businesses trying new things and experimenting during these tough times.
My advice to others is to talk to your users—there’s nothing more valuable—figure out what drew them to you, and then try to way find in similar channels.
Really believe in your product and that you have something unique with a point of difference.
It doesn’t have to be something nobody’s ever seen before, but there are going to be many ups and downs, so that belief keeps you going.
Also, working for yourself can be a bit lonely. So make sure you check in with your friends or become part of a community!
Surround yourself with people that will cheer you on, no matter how tough it gets.
Be realistic with finances, make sure you save enough to get the ball rolling, and always have a buffer, just in case.
Read books, listen to podcasts, there are so many free resources out there to get you started.
Find a niche, and stay true to your vision from day one.
Most importantly, learn to be kind to the people you meet and enjoy the experience; the business will mean nothing in hindsight if it's just about profits and numbers.
Polish your website, take the time to create beautiful photos, use hashtags.
Rather than spending my money on advertising send your product to like-minded people with a big following.
That will give you a lot of good exposure!
It may look like fun and games but it is hard work!
Do your research to make sure your product or service is unique and has a place in the market.
Try to find a point of difference and build an authentic brand story and vision. Be passionate about your business or you’ll burn yourself out fast!
Make sure you secure a name and get all of the legal steps done before starting anything else!
Apply for your LLC and trademark (if that is the route you want to go). Once that is all done and out of the way, it’s such a relief. This is one thing I wish I had done from the beginning.
Also, just START!
I waited and waited, thinking that no one would buy my products. I would have every excuse as to why I was not ready to launch. Like, I would have to do this first, or that first.
Once I got all of that out of my head and just launched and set a date and put it out on Instagram, I knew I had to follow through.
Figure out how you want to sell your product and then you’ll get the trust of people when they purchase. You can’t let them down, so then you have no choice but to deliver!
Just start. Start somewhere where it’s easy and just go from there.
You don’t have to have everything figured out in the first day, month, or year.
Always research and push yourself to do more, learn more, and be open to change and criticism.
Make sure you’re doing things by the book, and don’t be discouraged when you’re having a bad month, or you’re not growing at the rate you wish you would.
Always prioritize your goals by which actionable steps are the most accessible to you in the moment, and don’t give up when things get hard or don’t go as planned.
And never ever lose the authenticity of yourself or the reason why you do something along the way.
Have some great advice for small business owners?
The first best step anyone can take to start their own business is to start, as we heard loud and clear from all the incredible advice above.
Beyond that, there are lots of ways that small businesses can go from idea to reality. That’s why it’s great to have a community to help guide you from experience. Or, if you’ve already put in the work, dispensing your wisdom is a powerful way to help others start.
If you have some great advice for people just starting their small business, please let us know! You could be featured on the Sendle blog.